Re: Mark 1:23

From: Carl W. Conrad (
Date: Wed Mar 05 1997 - 01:15:44 EST

At 7:42 PM -0500 3/4/97, S. M. Baugh wrote:
>Re: "a man EN an unclean spirit"
>Rod Decker wrote:
>>>Wouldn't it make better sense to understand this as "with an unclean spirit?
>Wes Williams wrote:
>>I agree that there are difficulties understanding this EN as locative. In
>>recently researching the "EN + <a person>", I found that Zerwick proposes
>>that this Mark 1:23 usage is a semitism. However, Zerwick did not show
>>how it was a semitism.
>>Does anyone have information showing why or how this may be a semitism?
>Carl Conrad wrote:
>Would it represent the Hebrew preposition B'? My sense for Semitisms as
>such is not as keen as my scent for the un-Greek, but when checking on
>usage of EN a few days ago I found it was already used in classical
>Attic (albeit not frequently) in an instrumental sense, and I do think that EN
>instrumental usage.
>SmBaugh now writes:
>Well I have to confess that you have made me re-think the meaning of EN
>in this example. Which I will do (but don't be surprised if my "wheels
>grind slow"!). However, I am confused by your suggestions.
>Rod's rendering a man "with" an unclean spirit certainly seems plausible
>in English, yet "with" in English may mean "accompaniment." I'm not
>familiar with any uses of EN (in place of META or SYN) with that
>meaning. Perhaps Rod meant "with" as instrumental, in which case Wes and
>Conrad's remarks now come into view as well as my confusion! How can EN
>have an instrumental sense with the lead verb EIMI (HN in Mark 1:23)?
>The prepositional phrase could not be adverbial and instrumental with
>EIMI can it? (EIMI here states the presence of the man in a
>synogogue--how can an instument.)
>Perhaps you are reading in some instrumental meaning with the previous
>EN clause: "Now straight off there was in [EN] their synagogue a man
>(conveyed there) by an unclean spirit and he shouted out. . . ." Is that
>what you meant by instrumental? Or were you taking it with ANEKRAXEN?
>The former seems rather too subtle for Mark's normal usage,and the
>latter seems to ignore the intervening KAI (which is semitic inspired W
>and typical in Mark).
>Well, I'll ponder some more . . .

First of all, no, I at least do not take EN PNEUMATI AKAQARTWi as
instrumental in either of these last suggested senses but rather a simpler
instrumental used to indicate a condition or state characterizing a person;
we do use "with" in an instrumental rather than a comitative sense in such
expressions as "a man with an acute glandular condition" or "a lad with an
ugly scar on his face." Older Greek tended to use this dative
(instrumental) without a preposition generally, but occasionally used EN
with it, a preposition that is never used with a true dative. Some have
suggested that this may be a Semitism; earlier I suggested it (the EN +
instr. dat.) might translate a Hebrew B'. I had an off-list note from Jim
West (perhaps intended for the list) saying, "That's just what it is."

But then the question is raised:

>How can EN
>have an instrumental sense with the lead verb EIMI (HN in Mark 1:23)?
>The prepositional phrase could not be adverbial and instrumental with
>EIMI can it? (EIMI here states the presence of the man in a
>synogogue--how can an instrument.)

Nobody is saying an "instrument" is present, but rather that the man who is
present in the synagogue is distinguished by, characterized by, marked
by--an unclean spirit. A passage comparable to Mk 1:23 is Rev 1:10, where
the writer, John "the Presbyter" (?) says, EGENOMHN EN PNEUMATI EN THi
KURIAKHi hHMERAi ... Here we EGENOMHN rather than HN because EINAI has no
aorist, but I think that EN PNEUMATI is used in the same manner as is EN

One might reasonably ask how EN came to be used thus with an instrumental
dative more easily than one might answer it, but of course one would have
to ask a yet larger question, how the distinctive functions of the true
dative, the locative, and the instrumental-comitative cases of Proto
Indo-European came to be designated by a single set of endings which we
call Dative in Greek (in Latin, the locative and instrumental-comitative
fused with the ablative case; the PIE cases underwent different destinies
in different language families. What is nothing more than a guess is that
the preposition EN which was early used with the locative dative came
slowly in classical Attic to be used with the instrumental dative and that
this usage expanded in Koine. In general it is not terribly difficult to
see the lines separating true dative, instrumental-comitative, and locative
functions in dative phrases, but there are also times where the lines seem
to be very thin if not invisible; I suspect that metaphorical extensions of
locative usage assisted the process of using EN with the instrumental in
such expressions as EN PNEUMATI which are not really locative as such.

Carl W. Conrad
Department of Classics, Washington University
One Brookings Drive, St. Louis, MO, USA 63130
(314) 935-4018 OR

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